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Hello, St. Petersburg?


Inside Wall Street

HELLO, ST. PETERSBURG?

Add one more name to the growing list of telephone companies seeking to profit from the rising worldwide demand for phone services: Petersburg Long Distance, formerly NWE Capital. Its market is St. Petersburg, Russia, where multinationals including Eastman Kodak, Philip Morris, RJR Nabisco, and Honda Motor are operating. Shares started trading on the over-the-counter market on Feb. 18 at 7 1/4. They're now up to 9 1/8.

"The stock is sure to attract attention soon because Petersburg Long Distance is virtually a monopoly in that burgeoning city," says one London money manager. PLD's "tight business and political links in St. Petersburg reassure me about the company's future growth," he adds.

PLD owns 50% of PeterStar, a Russian company licensed to provide phone services in St. Petersburg. The local St. Petersburg telephone company owns 40% of PeterStar, and a group headed by St. Petersburg's mayor and Tiller International holds 10%.

Bill Hoppke, a vice-president and treasurer at Dominion Capital in Richmond, Va., says he's confident that PLD's growth will accelerate over the next two years. Dominion holds a 10% stake in Petersburg Long Distance. PLD Chairman and CEO Rupert Galliers-Pratt notes that St. Petersburg's phone system can't handle the rising volume of calls now that the multinationals set up shop. He says British Telecommunications has installed an earth station to link phone services by satellite, and GEC Plessey Telecommunications supplied pay-phone hardware.

Analyst Gordon Muir-Carby at Smith New Court Europe in London expects the company to turn a profit this year, with earnings of 58 a share, $1.07 next year, and $1.56 in 1995.GENE G. MARCIAL


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